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Safe Walk in Peril as MIT Cuts All Funding

By David D. Hsu
News Editor

Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56 officially ended funding for the Safe Walk safety escort service, due to the service's lack of use.

Dickson, Assistant Dean and Adviser to Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups Neil H. Dorow, Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin, and Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman met to decide the fate of the funding, Dickson said.

The committee felt that students "voted with their feet," Dickson said. The $35,000 in funding didn't justify the benefits of the program.

Safe Walk started in 1994, offering escorts for students walking home late at night ["Safe Walk to Offer On-Campus Escorts," Jan. 28, 1994"].

The funding for Safe Walk began as a one-year experiment, Dickson said. The committee measured the success of the experiment by its use. The service consistently provided only about six escorts each night.

The end of funding will not necessarily end Safe Walk, Dickson said, provided another source can be found to fund the program.

"I'm not going to go out and raise more start-up money - that was hard enough to begin with," Porter said.

Safe Walk founder blames Glavin

"I think it's a big mistake getting rid of Safe Walk," said Kenneth M. Porter '96, one of the program's founders.

Porter blamed Safe Walk's failure on restrictions made by Glavin.

The program was "probably doomed to fail from the beginning, due in large part to Chief Glavin," Porter said. "She made it look like she wanted to help, but in the long run she was doing just the opposite," Porter said. "And I still think the chief is incompetent."

Glavin would not allow Safe Walk workers with radio contact to go to garages or to go past Vassar Street and Memorial Drive, Porter said. This even prevented workers from walking to Random Hall, he said.

"These were things that were asked by the campus community," Porter said. "Our hands were tied behind our backs."

"My concerns on that only related to beyond the normal bounds of main campus," Glavin said in response. Safe Walk did not need to go beyond those bounds because Safe Ride covered those areas, she said.

"I thought [Safe Walk] was a wonderful program," Glavin said. Campus Police were pleased by the spirit of the Safe Walk workers, she said.

Porter also said the committee that decided to end Safe Walk was a "small group of elite people with no input from students."

Safe Walk's success should not be gauged solely on cost, Porter said. Safe Walk was likely "one of the main reasons that crime decreased on campus."

"I do know that the times when we were working, there was only one major crime that I was aware of," Porter said.

If a serious crime like the murder of Yngve K. Raustein '94, who was stabbed to death in 1992 while walking on Memorial Drive, happens again, people will wonder where Safe Walk went, Porter said.

CPs, Safe Ride still options

Safe Ride has absorbed some of the users of Safe Walk, Glavin said. In addition, the Campus Police have always offered escorts. "We won't do anything different than we've always done," she said.

"I doubt the Campus Police would even come close to providing the service we tried to provide," Porter said. "I've had trouble trying to get an escort from Campus Police."

The funds that Safe Walk used will go to other student groups, Dickson said.